This I Believe

Robert - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on September 26, 2007

I believe that simple acts change the world. I know because three days ago, they changed mine.

I teach school, 3rd grade, eight-and-nine-year-olds, a special time of childhood where the sun still rises. There is not a moment when down about life and my decisions, that my self-pity dissipates because of what these children do for me. I feel very greedy as I am the one who is suppose to be guiding them, yet I know they lead me closer to God than anyone. They help me better define this thing he made called man. They help me understand my world.

When I was just a six-year-old child, I lost my mother to cancer. With only whispered memories to remind me of her, what I mostly do remember are days where bowls were full to the brim with yellow-green bile after chemo treatments, a bandana to hide a baldhead, and her smiling at me even through all of that. Now while teaching, I quite often hear my students’ fears and am brought back to those times of my mother’s lonely sickness and desperate despair. I am also brought back to that smile. Whenever I feel sick about a life led empty, or despair on what I find unattainable, I see a kid who can grin, give me a hug, and somehow reveal that it’s all right. These children hold my mother’s smile. They reveal to me what her soul was. They are the face of God.

I sometimes feel the only thing darker than space is life on this planet. Life can cut a rut in me that at times leaves my soul feeling dirty, muddy, embarrassed, and bruised. Feeling this way for weeks that never end, it was three days ago that I found myself confronted by a student, a small eight-year-old girl. As all the other students left to go out to the playground, this small child came to me alone, and asked with still seriousness that if her mommy and daddy died like mine did, could I adopt her. That small act of love without saying love, that small act of kindness without knowing how kind it was, changed my world in an eye blink. She gave me family when at times I feel I have none left. She let me know God still holds me even if no one else wants to or will. She gave me her hand to hold. I took it and we went off to recess together, forgetting our fears, ready to play in life’s laughter.

Simply put, she changed my perceptions on what dreams a life can live. Even more simply, her act changed me. This I know. This I believe.